Michelle Kim

Woman Killed in New Jersey House Fire

What to Know

  • A New Jersey woman died in a house fire in Rahway early Wednesday morning
  • Shonda Smith, 44, was beloved in her community, loved ones say
  • Officials are looking into a cause of the fire

A New Jersey woman died in a Rahway house fire early Wednesday morning, authorities say.

Shonda Smith, 44, was found in her bedroom, likely overcome by smoke despite a working smoke alarm, officials said. 

Cellphone video showed flames engulfing the home on Washington Street. Neighbor William Calloway said he was about 15 to 30 feet away and "it felt like I was in front of a fireplace. It was real hot." 

Smith worked for Barnabas Health, but lived for her family and her community, throwing annual Halloween parties in her backyard, loved ones said. 

"They would decorate the whole backyard, and the community was invited, even family and friends," said Bishop Charles Smith, a family friend. 

Firefighters were still trying to put out the fire hours later, when Smith's sister rushed to the scene.

"It's not real. I'm going to wake up," said a stunned Monica Smith. 

"She was my baby. She had a heart of gold. Would give you anything she has," said Smith. 

Fire officials are looking for a cause of the fire. 

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